Relationships are HARD. Being in a committed relationship means literally sharing a life with another person, and as selfish human beings, this can be challenging. Everything from bills to family tragedies becomes not just “my” problem, or “their” problem, but “our” problem. Your significant other becomes both a blessing and a burden, and at any moment this role is interchangeable. It’s comforting to have a person to share both the memorable and mundane moments of life with, but it can also be frustrating to deal with another person’s anxiety, attitude, and bad habits. These things can create tension and conflict, and may lead you to seek ways to improve your relationship.
People tend to blame the other person in moments of disagreement, and usually look to them to be the ones to make a change. But waiting for other people to change is usually pointless, and looking inward is sometimes the answer to solving both the immediate and long-term relationship issues that arise.
The next time you find yourself in a heated argument with your partner, or having general feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration, take these simple but important steps of mindfulness. They will help you solve the problem at hand, and will have a direct effect on how you and your partner interact for years to come.
Imagine this- you’re in a bad mood and your partner accusingly complains about something you did. The something could be anything. The instinct is to throw an accusation back at him or her because you feel attacked. While your feelings aren’t without merit, any response other than “I’m sorry” usually ignites unnecessary arguments. It will shock you how much a simple apology can diffuse any situation (and also surprise the person on the receiving end of it). So the next time a pointless argument is brewing, try calmly and genuinely saying “I’m sorry” and see how big a difference it makes.
It can be easy to forget how hurtful criticisms can be until someone is criticizing you. It’s also so easy to criticize your partner. Sometimes after years of being together, you may take that person for granted and use them as an emotional punching bag. It’s important to ask yourself how your partner views your criticisms. Who really wants to be beaten down, day by day, by a moody partner? You probably don’t constantly berate your best friends and co-workers with insults and complaints, so why is this such common practice between romantic partners? The next time you find yourself mindlessly dropping snarky comments, think about using a compliment instead.
There’s nothing worse than trying to say something and not being heard. This happens a lot because it’s easy to talk, but not as easy to listen. Listening requires letting go of your feelings and anger in the moment, and understanding another person’s reality. Facing situations with an “I’m right you’re wrong” attitude is never productive because both sides will inevitably yell and close themselves off to the other’s perspective. The next time you find you and your partner talking at each other instead of to each other, take a breath and let them speak. Digest what they say and respect it, even if you disagree with it.
Change your Routine
Monotony and boredom can affect any relationship. Maybe you’re feeling unappreciated and lonely because you haven’t enjoyed a meal out in a while, or maybe you’re feeling resentful that you’re too tired to hit the gym after watching the kids all day. The reality is, your partner isn’t the person who has any real control over your feelings. If your significant other isn’t immediately willing to change their schedule to accommodate, change yours! Can’t get a night-time workout in? Wake up one hour earlier for a morning gym session instead. If they don’t make the time to initiate a special dinner, schedule your own dinner out with friends. Start a new project. Do your own thing. But do it without resentment.
It’s far better to make some kind of change in your own life, than to change nothing and harbor feelings of anger and resentment. Another great thing about this tactic is that it will often catch the attention of your partner without you ever having to say a word.
Recent behavioral science indicates that body language has a direct effect on your life and relationships with other people. Smiling can put you in a better mood and it attracts a more positive response from those around you. Just consider how exhausting it is when your partner is in a nasty mood and scowling. This applies to you too! The next time you find yourself annoyed and frowning, try changing your outlook on the situation. Find something funny to break the tension. It may even lead to a more honest conversation and productive solution.
These tips should be practiced daily, which can be hard but worth it! Being mindful in your relationship is an important way to stay present, accountable, and positive. You and your partner both deserve the effort.
Want ideas and inspiration to help you make some changes in your life? Check out our Inspiration section at Daily Mom!
Sources: NBC News, Ornish Lifestyle Medicine